Glens, bracken, mist, burns...all that's missing are
Scottish kilts and bagpipes. Meghalaya, of Scottish scenery and Indian
charm, is a tiny state tucked away in-between
Bangladesh. Among the wettest places on earth, it is home to an
extraordinary diversity of peoples, the Khasi,
Shillon is its capital.
Meghalaya is dotted with a number of divine tourist spots, where Nature unveils herself in all her glory. Shillong, the capital city has a number of beautiful sites like, Ward's lake, Lady Hydari park, Polo ground, Mini zoo, Elephant falls and Shillong peak, overlooking the city and the golf course, one of the best in the country.
The Scotland Of The East
When the Scots first came to the hilly side of Meghalaya in the North-East of Indian land, met and intermarried the handsome Khasi people and delighjted in the mists and deep valleys, they felt very nostalgic. So they called Shillong, 'The Scotland of the East'.
The pleasant hill station of Shillong, derives its name from the deity Shillong or "Lei Shillong", which is worshipped at the Shillong Peak, 10-km from the main town. This is the highest point in the state and commands a panoramic view of the valley. In the evening, the city lights below glitter like a giant Christmas tree. One of the first places that a newcomer to Shillong should visit is the Lewduh Bazar. Cheerful women dominate this market, the largest of its kind in the Northeast. Oranges, Pineapples and other fruits; vegetables, meat and Fish are on sale here as are consumer durables.
The Tribal History
The tribal hill people trace their origins to pre-Aryan times in India. They accepted nominal British rule in the 19th century. Included in the state of Assam, the area received special protection under the Indian constitution. With the introduction of Assamese as official language, agitation for autonomy began, and the area was made a state in 1972. Most of the inhabitants are of Tibeto-Burman (Garos) or Mon-Khmer (Khasis) origin. The predominately rural population is mostly Hindu and Christian, with some Muslims and a few Buddhists also inhabiting the state.
In Meghalaya, mothers know best. This is a matrilineal society - property and wealth are passed through the female rather than the male line. Majority of the Khasis, (the dominant tribe) are archers, though agriculture is the main occupation. Crops include rice, millet, corn (maize), pepper, potatoes, chilies, cotton, ginger, betel nuts, oranges, mangoes, bananas, pineapples, and numerous varieties of vegetables. Forests are the source of commercial wood: teak, bamboo and cane.
The main shopping areas are Police Bazar, Bara Bazar and
Laitumkhrah. At Bara Bazar one can have an interesting experience of
seeing people of different tribes in colourful traditional attire. For
hand-woven shawls, handicrafts, orange flower honey and cane work, one can
visit the emporia namely - the Meghalaya Handicrafts, Khadi Gramodyog and
Meghalaya is endowed with a rich variety of beauty in nature. Of the 17,000 species of orchids in the world, about 1,250 exist in India, of which nearly 300 are found in Meghalaya. The Khasi hills specially boast of the age-old sacred forests, many of which are preserved to this day by traditional religious sanction. The Mawphlang sacred forest, 20-km west of Shillong represents the pristine glory and wisdom of the elders of yore in preserving the ecological system.
Meghalaya has a rich wildlife. It is the home of many rare animals and birds, the best known of them being Elephants, Tigers, Golden Cats, Binturongs, Slow Loris, Monkeys of different types and interesting birds including Hornbills, Partridges, Teals, Snipes and Quails.
All its charms are made doubly attractive by its climate;
on the whole, cool and temperate, right round the year. For instance,
Cherrapunjee is known to receive the world's heaviest rainfall, but most
of it in three or four months of the year. Its climate makes Meghalaya
that rare hill-resort-country that is a pleasure to visit round the year,
even in the middle of winter.
Festive celebrations in Meghalaya vary according to the region and tribe. Festivals, apart from those of the Christian faith, are held annually. This is a time when the ancestral spirits are appeased, following sowing and harvesting. Ka Pomblang Nongkrem, or the Nongkrem Dance, is one of the most important Khasi festivals. Shad Sukmynsiem is another important festival of the Khasis. Behdiengkhlam, the most significant festival of the Jaintias is celebrated in July. Wangala, is the prominent festival of the Garos and is dedicated to the Sun God.
Meghalaya Tourism Dept Corp, Orchid Hotel, Polo Rd,
The Director, Directorate of Tourism, MTC Building, Police Bazaar, Shillong
MTDC Meghalaya House, 9 Russel Street, Kolkata - 71
Directorate of Tourism, 9 Aurangzeb Road, New Delhi - 11
Population: 17,74,778 million
Latitude: 250 and 26.150
Longitude: 89.450 and 92.470
Seven Administrative Districts: West Garo Hills, East Garo Hills, South Garo Hills, West Khasi Hills, East Khasi Hills, Ri Bhoi and Jaintia Hills.